All small business owners recognise that feeling of dread when looking at the pile of receipts and invoices that really should be a set of books. This is the time to get them sorted, tax return time is coming up and without accurate books you could end up overpaying on tax or even worse paying a penalty.

Keep it simple
A set of books needs to be such that a tax inspector can easily find the data used in a tax return and match it to the original documents. Whilst computerised accounts systems are effective they maybe more complicated than you need. If you are set on doing the books yourself make sure the tools are up to the job by running it past an accountant or ask them to set you up a pro forma.

Don’t leave it until the last minute
There is nothing worse than Christmas having gone and the accounts still aren’t a set of books never mind ready to do the tax return. Do it now and if you can’t, accept that and find someone who can do them for you.

Have an expert calculate your tax
The tax calculators online aren’t always accurate (shock horror) think how many people over or under pay each year. Having your tax calculated by an expert is a double check to ensure you are paying the correct tax and claiming all the allowances you are eligible for.

Look for qualifications
If you are going to bring in an expert check they are qualified, anyone can do bookkeeping but those who are members of the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) are qualified to do this work and have met the requirements you need for membership of this body. They are skilled in bookkeeping, tax matters and end of year accounts. Always ask the question which professional body they are linked to, and check it out!

Doing the books is such a common gripe of small business owners, the question to ask is ‘how much could I earn in the time I’m doing the books?’ You’ll usually find that your time is better spent elsewhere as you’d pay a book keeper less than you’d make! Remember they can do it all quicker than you too, as its their area of expertise. As soon as you hand over your carrier bag, box file or ring binder you can stop worrying and get on with running your business!